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Hekhalot/MerkabahliteratureRA‘ANAN S. BOUSTANHekhalot literature represents the earliestextensive collection of Jewish mystical writingsfrom Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.Hekhalot compositions are characterized bya unique, if eclectic, literary style. These textsconsist variously of detailed descriptions of thetopography and denizens of the heavenlyrealms, the elaborate protocols for the liturgyperformed by the angels before God, as well asthe actual hymns of praise of which this heav-enly liturgy consists, and, most distinctively,ritual instructions to enable the practitionereither to ascend to heaven or to bring angelsdown to earth. The term hekhalot comes fromthe Hebrew word for the celestial palaces ortemples (sing. hekhal) within which God andhis angelic host reside. The form of religiouspraxis and experience described in Hekhalotliterature is often also referred to as “Merkavahmysticism” because it draws upon the prophetEzekiel’s vision of the divine chariot-throne(the...